Goodbye Salty Dharma, Hello Lazy River

Well, I mentioned it before, and now it’s happening: Salty Dharma is closing its doors.

All of the content will still be here, but the domain will expires so it’ll probably be like satlydharma.wordpress or what-have-you.

But, I’m not just gonna leave everyone hangin’. I’m starting a new project called the Lazy River Mahayana Sangha (might be shortened to just the Lazy River Sangha soon). It’s 100% on Facebook. If you don’t have an account, feel free to send me your email address and I can e-mail you everything I write there.

The Lazy River page is also going to have a private Facebook group attached to it that follows the old Chan tradition of one tutor to one student. If you’re interested in joining that group, send the Lazy River page a message and we’ll talk about it.

Why am I neglecting Salty Dharma? It’s been a long time coming. I’m not the same person I was when I started this blog, and a lot of tragic things have happened over the past two years that have permanently shifted my direction and pushed me deeper into Buddha practice.

I want to thank all you for sticking with me all these years, and I’m hoping that you’ll stay with me for this next part of the journey. It’s gonna be great. If you’re curious about the specifics of the new page, here’s the full About section:

The Lazy River Mahayana Sangha (LRMS) page used to be the FB page for John Lee Pendall’s “Salty Dharna” blog. But, Salty Dharma’s days are over. Instead of creating a whole new page for followers, I figured it’d be easier to re-purpose this page. Lazy River is a Buddhist school that’s part of non-sectarian Mahayana. I guess we can just call it Reformed Mahayana, Universal Mahayana, or just, well Mahayana Buddhism. Saying, “I’m a Mahayanist,” is sort of like someones saying, “I’m a Christian.” They aren’t Catholic, Protestant, Methodist, etc., they’re just “a Christian.”

Saying, “I’m a Mahayanist,” is just like that. You’re not a Yogacarin, Madhyamakan, Zennist, Pure Lander, Vajrayanin, etc., you just practice Mahayana in a general, inclusive way.

My hope is that more Mahayana priests and teachers will start their own Mahayana Sanghas that defy all sectarian definitions. We could create a Mahayana association, the same way that there’s a Secular Buddhist Association, and an Association for Zen priests. The only thing all these Mahayana Sanghas need to have in common is a solid foundation in the Bodhisattva Path. That means students and tutors (no teachers) from all Mahayana Sanghas take Refuge in the Three Treasures:

  1. I take Refuge in the Buddha
  2. I take Refuge in the Dharma
  3. I take Refuge in the Sangha

take and abide by the five lay precepts:

  1. I vow to refrain from taking life or causing harm.
  2. I vow to refrain from taking what isn’t given freely
  3. I vow to refrain from misusing sexuality
  4. I vow to refrain from lying, harsh, or manipulative speech
  5. I vow to refrain from abusing intoxicants

and take the four Bodhisattva Vows:

  1. To save all sentient beings, though beings are numberless
  2. To exhaust all delusions, though delusions are inexhaustible
  3. To comprehend the Truth, though the Truth is incomprehensible
  4. To attain Buddhahood, though Buddhahood is unattainable

Besides that, all Mahayana Sanghas can have their own focuses and flavors. Since we’re practicing general Mahayana, no Sangha has to be set in stone. We have every single Buddhist teaching and practice that’s ever been created at our disposal, and we can even make new ones. Mahayana means, “Great Vehicle,” because it includes all the other “vehicles.” It’s even possible to look outside of Buddhism for inspiration, as long what we bring back doesn’t contradict the Three Marks of Existence:

  1. All created things are impermanent
  2. All created things that are clung to are suffering
  3. All created and uncreated things are without self-essence

The Lazy River Sangha

The Lazy River Sangha gets its name from our style of practice: slow and steady, smooth and flowing. Unlike many Western Buddhist institutions, we take karma and rebirth literally, and we have a non-linear view on time courtesy of the Avatamsaka Sutra. Our patron Bodhisattva is Samantabhadra.

We also accept the notion that Buddhadharma is impermanent, so there will come a day when Buddhism is either totally gone, or totally misunderstood to the point of it being useless. That’s when a Bodhisattva will do what Siddhartha did 2600 years ago and come to complete enlightenment.

We’re not there yet, so there’s no point in trying to push for Buddhahood on the spot. we’ve got a lot of craving and clinging to exhaust before we can cop a squat at the Bodhi Tree.

Basically, we’re very open to the more intuitive, emotional, and “mystical” aspects of Mahayana practice, though we won’t turn away someone just because they aren’t into that sort of thing. You could easily take everything you read here metaphorically. But, feeling that Buddha practice stretches across several lifetimes can be very helpful when it comes to arousing Bodhicitta (Awakening Mind), and Bodhicitta is essential.

Since we’re dedicated to the Bodhisattva Path, there’s no rush to snapping Awake to complete enlightenment on the spot. Complete enlightenment will happen in its own time. The practice is what’s important.We also recognize that, in a way, all beings are already Buddhas, but that Buddhahood is covered up by various burdens. Since we’re a gradualist Bodhisattva school, there’s a loose path for us to follow:

The Six Stages of Buddha Practice

  1. Hedonist Buddha
  2. Nihilist Buddha
  3. Seeker Buddha
  4. Exhausted Buddha
  5. Friendly Buddha
  6. Buddha

We’ll go over all of these in posts over time.

The Student-Tutor Relationship

The Lazy River page is open to everyone, but there’s also a FB group that only accepts one member at a time. This is based on the old Zen formula, where a teacher and a student studied together until they experience the One Heart (yixin) together. This happens when the student is in the Exhausted Buddha stage and chooses to stall nirvana and instead decides to selflessly serve all beings. This choice isn’t based on reason, it’s something deep and emotional that happens in the Heart. With it comes insight into the nature of time and what Buddha is. We simply can’t guide students to that en mass or by writing and speaking to a general audience. It has to be one-on-one. If you’re interested in FB group, feel free to message the page.

So, there we have it. If you’d like tutorship with me, I encourage you to put in a request soon because I can only take on one student at a time. Once we’ve pushed through the Exhausted stage together and are both in the Friendly Buddha part, then more spots will open up since then there’ll be two tutors, then three, then four and so on.

If you’re interested in the tutorship program, you can either head over to the page and send a message there, or you can contact me using the form below. Also, if you’re averse to Facebook, feel free to contact me and I’ll email all my writings on the page to you once a week.

Once again, from the depths of my heart, thank you. May you all be happy, healthy, and free of suffering.

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